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With the ending of the Space Shuttle program, as mandated by President Bush, followed by President Obama’s unexpected cancelation of the Shuttle’s replacement—the Constellation program (the Ares rocket)—the United States was left without a federal manned spaceflight capability for the first time in a half century. The Congress found that unacceptable and thus mandated that the national policy would be that the USA must have a Shuttle replacement and that same launcher must be able to loft vehicles for exploration beyond low earth orbit. This heavy lift launch vehicle became known as the Space Launch System (SLS) and was placed into the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. Although NASA has refused to make public the details of the SLS, the industrious designers at Dr. Zooch Rockets have developed this kit based on leaked information. Thus, you can fly the SLS before NASA even gets started on it!
According to NASA, the Space Launch System, or SLS, will be the long-awaited follow-on for the Space Shuttle. It is designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond. Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.
NASA goes on to say that the SLS rocket will incorporate proven elements from the Space Shuttle Program and the cancelled Constellation Program. This will be done in order to take advantage of proven hardware and cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technology, as well as to significantly reduce development and operations costs (we've heard that story before, haven't we?).
The SLS rocket will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, which will include the RS-25D/E from the Space Shuttle Program for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage. SLS will also use solid rocket boosters for the initial development flights, while follow-on boosters will be competed based on performance requirements and affordability considerations.
The SLS will have an initial lift capacity of 70 metric tons. That's more than 154,000 pounds, or 77 tons, roughly the weight of 40 sport utility vehicles. The lift capacity will be evolvable to 130 metric tons -- more than 286,000 pounds, or 143 tons -- enough to lift 75 SUVs. The first developmental flight, or mission, is targeted for the end of 2017.
Envision And Fly This NASA Rocket Today
It is going to take NASA years to get the SLS rocket to the pad, but you can launch your version today! Imagine walking out to the launch pad with this unique model rocket kit. Everyone will ask where you got it, or if you scratch built it. They will be in awe as you show how far ahead of NASA you are with this beautiful rendition of the next generation space launcher.
The SLS model rocket kit from Dr. Zooch is a nice size model -- not to big, and not too small. It is also economical to fly, because it will zoom skyward on the standard size (18mm diameter) rocket motors.
What is cool about this model is that its rocket engine is mounted forward of the fins, which moves the center of gravity forward. This makes for a very stable rocket flight.
Kit Features of the Dr. Zooch SLS Rocket
Conventional Model Parts - The kit is very light weight thanks to extensive use of conventional materials like paper and balsa wood for the fins. Because of this, you will not need any special tools to assemble this kit.
The quality of the parts from Dr. Zooxh Rockets is really top notch. This kit is no exception. Even the way that they package the kit in the box so nicely is a testament to the care that they put into the design and presentation of the model. You're first impression when getting this rocket will be: "WOW!" This is a lot of stuff for the price.
Pre-Weighted Balsa Nose Cone - The balsa is high-quality, giving your kit a great look. You can seal the surface easily using carpenter's wood filler. See our video instructions on sealing balsa wood if you need additional help.
The transition of this rocket has already been hollowed out and filled with epoxy clay to give it the right amount of ballast for a perfectly stable launch.
Detail Hardware Set - The rocket comes with a small bag of what are seemingly random parts. You'll notice the spring steel engine hook, as it allows you to quickly change out model rocket engines quickly. The other items are to detail the rocket, giving it a handsome look. The tiny Launch Abort System (L.A.S). nozzles are included in the kit. They are actually tiny turned pieces of wood (the ends of those fancy style tooth picks).
Pressure Sensitive Decals - Whenn this kit was created, NASA didn't even know how it would be painted. So the decals are a little sparse. But don't worry, the kit uses so many paper wraps that it looks like it has a lot of intricate detail. Dr. Zooch even included a textured wrap, just in case NASA decides to apply spray-foam insulation like they did on the Space Shuttle external tank.
Plastic Parachute- The 12" plascitc parachute is thin yet extremely strong, keeping your rocket safe without adding weight. The bright red color helps to track the parachute and your rocket through the sky. In fact, we sent Dr. Zooch Apogee parachutes, just so you'd have the best recovery system for your new model rocket.
Elastic Shock Cord - To prevent the nose cone from separating, the kit also includes a rubber core elastic cord that you are probably familiar with in other kits.
High Quality White Body Tubes - You'll notice the ends have a burnt look to them. That's because they were laser cut to length, and the laser actually burns through the paper to make each tube the perfect length. And the surface on these tubes are slick and smooth, which makes marking lines on them easy. Painting is also a breeze, since the spirals are shallow and require little filling.
You Cut'm Balsa Wood Fins - While you do have to use a hobby knife to cut them yourself from a pattern sheet, you'll love the look of these "flame" fins. Flame fins give the rocket stability without compromising the design. This can also be a great discussion piece for students of rocketry and physics - why can't a model rocket fly without fins? Do you want to know the answer? Drop us an email and we can point you to the answer.
Flame fins give the rocket stability without compromising the design. This can also be a great discussion piece for students of rocketry and physics - why can't a model rocket fly without fins? Do you want to know the answer? Check out Peak-of-Flight Newsletter #248 for the answer.
Laser Cut Balsa Centering Rings - The kit also includes perfectly precise laser cut rings make assembling the model rocket kit as easy as possible.
Paper Wraps mean minimal painting and finish time - so you can get this baby to the launch pad right away (unlike a certain government space agency that shall remain unnamed). Actually, there isn't much painting, just the core body (white), and the yellow flame-fins. You'll be out to the launch pad in hardly any time at all.
Hilariously Funny Instructions - The Dr. Zooch kits are renowned for their humorous content. The narrator of the instructions is an ant that goes by the name "Dr. Zooch." He talks you through the construction steps - like he is standing besides you. All the while, he makes witty comments about the space program, the qualifications necessary to become a NASA manager, and unknown facts about the space program.
But Dr. Zooch is somewhat like a old-school teacher that will berate you as you are building this kit. He is a manly-man kind of ant. He wants you to go for the glory. That's why you need to get this kit today!
What Makes This a Skill Level 5 Rocket?
This rocket requires some advanced paper-modeling skills, which is why we deemed it a Skill Level 5. Basically, what you will be doing is applying a printed wrap over the various parts of the rocket. Some parts are very small and are difficult to trim and hold while you are assembling them. That little shroud on the escape motor at the point of the rocket is one such example.
While the instructions are extremely funny to read, you do have to remember that you have to keep your focus and put the rocket together. In this small way, the humor can be distracting when your actually putting the pieces together. As Dr. Zooch would say: "Focus people... Keep your focus."
But with patience and time, this rocket will be worthy of your rocket collection. You'll be glad that you did invest the effort in this model, as everyone that sees it will want to know if you can build one for them too. There isn't an engineer working for NASA that wouldn't want this baby sitting on their desk.
Tools needed to assemble the Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket Kit
Rocket motors are sold separately from the kit. For more help in selecting rocket motors, see our video tutorial. If you're unsure, start with the "First Flight" recommendation or the one with the lowest altitude, then go up from there.
The RockSim software gives you a lot of information about the flight characteristics of this rocket: how high, how fast, where it will land, how will it react to wind, etc. The "design file" is intended to save you time. All the parameters (size, shape, weight, fin design, etc.) of this rocket have already been entered into the RockSim program, and saved as an electronic database file. You can just open it up in your copy of RockSim and start loading different rocket motors to run launch simulations. It's fun and educational to see the rocket zoom skyward, even before you built it. For more information about RockSim and to download a FREE 30-day demo version, click here.
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